SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Meghann Cant BSc (Agroecology) MSc (Animal Welfare), Animal Welfare Educator, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
For many of us, the very thought of eating rabbits is disturbing, yet there is a burgeoning meat rabbit industry here in Canada. The industry, mainly concentrated in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, has no national representative body and, until this year, no national welfare standards.
On February 15, 2018, Canada’s first Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Rabbits was released. Just what does this Code mean for rabbits? This presentation will give you a brief overview of where the industry is at right now and take you through the key welfare outcomes negotiated at the table. There were some solid wins but, if you are at all familiar with rabbits, there were also some compromises that could not be overcome in this first go-round. Meghann Cant will walk you through the dynamics of negotiating the Code and arm you with examples of how rabbit welfare will be improved from current practice.
- Brief overview of the rabbit industry in Canada.
- Summary of the major requirements and recommended practices in the Rabbit Code.
- Highlights of what changed in the Rabbit Code after the public comment period.
Meghann Cant has worked for the BC SPCA as an animal welfare educator since 2009. She produces educational materials for adults and youth, including Bark!, the BC SPCA’s magazine for kids. Meghann has a Bachelor of Science in Agroecology (2003) and a Masters of Science in Animal Welfare (2013), both from the University of British Columbia. Over the years, she has volunteered with animals in a variety of settings, from veterinary medicine to wildlife rehabilitation to senior animal rescue. Her keenest interests are small mammal behaviour, health and welfare.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Amy Morris MPP, Manager, Public Policy and Outreach, British Columbia (BC SPCA)
This session will take participants through old issues and troubling trends in the connections between science, public policies and enforcement strategies in agriculture and farm animal welfare. Identified issues include: science funding, lack of enforcement, limited communication methods, the impact of employment policies and wages, product differentiation and conflicts between social movements competing for resources.
Funding for science often comes from a specific industry researching a specific problem. Having science driven by industry can be meaningful, but it can also limit big picture thinking in animal welfare research. Who are the players involved and what can be done differently to see better outcomes for animals?
Government legislation is often written with the ideal enforcement scenario in mind, but enforcement is rarely tied to the legislation itself, resulting in low enforcement and low compliance. What can be changed to address enforcement issues?
Communication includes industry mail-outs, local newspapers, and government updates, with in person sessions that have low attendance. Farmers have little time available. How can this communication gap be addressed?
Participants will work in groups to discuss these issues and trends and identify working solutions.
- Learn about the most prevalent systemic issues around Canadian animal farming.
- An appreciation for the nuances of developing policy.
- An understanding of how to create a pathway forward to address farm animal welfare issues.
Amy Morris is the Manager of Public Policy and Outreach at the BC SPCA and a graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at Simon Fraser University. She is passionate about the cycle that turns welfare science into practice, improving the lives of animals of all species. She has worked on farms with cattle, goats, sheep and chickens, volunteered to rehabilitate hoarder and puppy mill pets, and now spends her free time testing the intelligence of her collie mix, Clover.
MONDAY, APRIL 23
Christina Carrieres, Vice President, Board of Directors, Wildlife Rehabilitators' Network of BC
Heather Schmitt, Board of Directors, Wildlife Rehabilitators' Network of BC
As our urban areas continue to expand and human-wildlife interactions increase, with it is a growing demand for humane care for distressed wildlife. This trend is paired with a growing public expectation that wildlife rehabilitators provide care that meets professional standards comparable to those in place for companion or exotic animals.
Barriers to meeting this demand include the position of wildlife rehabilitation centres as non-profit organizations relying on charitable support to provide a needed public service, a lack of available formal technical training, a high rate of professional burnout, succession planning challenges and uneven geographical access to wildlife rehabilitation facilities.
The Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC has begun a dialogue with rehabilitation professionals across British Columbia to explore how best to support the field and enhance wildlife welfare. The initial findings from this exercise have offered valuable insights into the common issues faced by the rehabilitation community and have provided a starting point for creating professional development resources.
- What is the current landscape of wildlife rehabilitation across British Columbia?
- What are the common challenges faced by the rehabilitation and wildlife welfare community?
- What connections can be created or strengthened among rehabilitation facilities and other animal welfare professionals?
Christina Carrieres is an Animal Health Technologist, a Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator and an instructor for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. She worked at BC SPCA Wild ARC for more than 12 years, where she led a team of wildlife rehabilitation staff and volunteers treating more than 3,000 wild patients every year. She is originally from Montreal, where she worked with marine mammals at the Parc Aquarium de Québec for some time before moving to Victoria in 2003 to complete a Double Major in Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.
Christina is the Vice President of the Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Network of BC, the Vice President of the Oiled Wildlife Society of BC, and the WRNBC trustee within the Oiled Wildlife Trust of British Columbia. She also volunteers with Vets for Pets, a local organization that provides free basic medical care to low income and homeless people’s pets and is a member of the Canadian Animal Assistance Team.
Over the years, she has completed a number of training courses and has gained experience volunteering in various wildlife rehabilitation centres in different countries, such as Guatemala, Belize, South Africa and the US (Hawaii) where she worked with endangered species. She also attended numerous conferences related to wildlife in order to provide the best possible care for Vancouver Island’s wild patients.
Heather Schmitt is a Certified Volunteer Administrator and completed a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, as well as a Master's degree in Environmental Studies from Queen's University. She has worked at two of the busiest wildlife rehabilitation centres in Canada, serving as Assistant Manager at BC SPCA's Wild ARC, and staffing the emergency wildlife hotline at Toronto Wildlife Centre. Heather is on the Board of Directors for the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC, and has furthered her knowledge of the wildlife rehabilitation field by attending numerous conferences and completing the Oiled Wildlife Society's First Responder training.
MONDAY, APRIL 23
Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
With a recent change in government in British Columbia, a policy announcement in summer 2017 brought about mixed reactions from conservationists and animal welfare organizations. Slammed by resident and non-resident hunting lobby groups, an election promise to "end the trophy hunt" of grizzly bears was met with caution by the BC SPCA as details on new regulations and number of bears saved were yet to be determined.
What does the "end of the trophy hunt" mean for BC's bears, and in particular the Great Bear Rainforest? This presentation will review the status of the grizzly bear hunt in Canada and break down the available regulations to determine what new protections exist, and where wildlife advocacy is still needed. Perhaps this is a first step toward a new era of wildlife management framed by Compassionate Conservation.
- An update on the status of grizzly bear hunting.
- How these policy changes were achieved.
- Global trophy hunting and how animal welfare organizations can respond.
Dr. Sara Dubois is the BC SPCA’s Chief Scientific Officer, where she directs province-wide welfare science operations, education and advocacy projects. She works on: wildlife rehabilitation, oil spill response, captive wildlife and exotic pets, human-wildlife conflicts and compassionate conservation, and consults on wildlife cruelty investigations. Sara is a registered professional biologist with a BSc IN Biology (UVic) and an MSc and PhD from the UBC Animal Welfare Program, whose main area of expertise is in wildlife welfare and human dimensions. She is an Adjunct Professor with the UBC Applied Biology Program and Advisor to the Whale Sanctuary Project.